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Right-Brain Church in a Left-Brain Culture

Daniel Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, asserts that we are becoming a right-brained world. He says, “We’ve progressed from the Agriculture Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age and will move on to the Conceptual Age.” In other words, we are evolving from a left-brained world to a conceptual, right-brained age.

What is the difference between left and right-brained people? People who are left-brained tend to be linear, definitive and sequential in their thinking. Right-brained people are inclined to be intuitive, dynamic, and creative.

Traditionally, churches have used a left-brain approach to teaching, preaching and worship. We have often used lecture-style sermons and classes, relayed facts, and encouraged memorization of Scripture. And this approach has been successful in the past. But if we are becoming a right-brain culture as Pink suggests, we need to balance our methods. How can we do this?

1. Help people know Jesus, not know about him. Teaching others how to develop a relationship with Jesus goes far beyond imparting facts. People grow spiritually when their hearts are fully engaged and they can see God’s face. We need to teach people how to experience him on an intimate, spiritual level.
2. Teach people how to think, not what to think. Teaching others how to think can be threatening. We fear that we may lose our control. But our job is not to make clones of ourselves; it is to help others be transformed into the image of Jesus. It takes a spiritually mature person to inspire others to think critically and imaginatively.
3. Preach innovation, not just information. Biblical knowledge is good, but it has limited value if people do not know what to do with it. We need to teach people how to creatively share their stories with others—how they came to Jesus and what he has done in their lives. We also need to teach people how to pray, not simply what to pray.
4. Worship creatively, not create more worship. In our attempts to be innovative in worship we sometimes change the order or add other elements. However, a trial and error approach to worship only serves to confound or even polarize good-willed people. Perhaps the answer is to recalibrate our worship to help right-brained people connect with God. We can challenge people to participate more fully with their senses instead of being mere observers.

Are you left-brained or right-brained? A quick way to determine that is to look at the dancer below. Is she turning clockwise or counter-clockwise? If you see her turning clockwise, you are more of a right-brained person, and vice-versa.

Can you make the dancer change directions? Try closing one eye and then the other.

Changing our strategies to communicate more effectively with a right-brained world will require us to get out of our comfort zones and do some serious soul-searching. But we need to be like Jesus and meet people where they are in today’s world.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi, I have developed a tool that any one can use to witness one on one, anywhere anytime. See at, “Life’s Secret” Terry Dorn – Chaplain to the Streets

    December 17, 2010
  2. Mike Stroud #

    All I can say is a hearty AMEN. Helping our churches turn the corner is the biggie – especially within our c of C world. My experience is that our folk wrote the book on left-brain theology. Seems to have started with John Locke’s influence on the Campbells. Have you ever delved into how Scottish “common sense rationalism” influenced the Restoration Movement?

    December 29, 2010

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